Illness Outbreak Hits Fathom's Adonia

AdoniaThe Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that there was an illness outbreak on Fathom's Adonia this past week (October 16 - October 23, 2016).

The CDC states that 23 of 668 (3.44%) passengers reported being ill with diarrhea and vomiting during this voyage which returned to Miami from Cuba yesterday. Only 2 out of the 388 crew members were reportedly sick.   

A CDC environmental health officer boarded the ship when it returned to Miami.

The CDC has not determined the cause of what appears to be a gastrointestinal outbreak.  

Fathom increased its cleaning and disinfection procedures for the cruise ship.

Fathom's historical first cruise on the Adonia cruise ship to Cuba was plagued by a norovirus outbreak. The captain of the ship announced a gastrointestinal outbreak with the passengers experiencing symptoms consistent with norovirus on the ship last May. Carnival later contradicted the captain and said that there was no confirmation that the passengers were sickened by norovirus.   

The Adonia also suffered a complete blackout last May and was ordered to return to the port of Miami when it regained power.  It had earlier failed U.S. Coast Guard inspections in April when it arrived in Miami from P&O Cruises when it was being readied for cruises to Cuba and the Dominican Republic.

The Adonia is currently sailing to Amber Cover in the Dominican Republic.

Photo credit: By Alessandro Ambrosetti from Rome, Italy - Fathom Adonia, CC BY 2.0.

More Trouble for Fathom: Coast Guard Orders Adonia to Return to Miami after Experiencing Blackout

Late yesterday afternoon, Fathom's Adonia experienced a power loss, causing its elevators, bathrooms and air conditioners to stop working for around 30 minutes. "Following orders from the U.S. Coast Guard," the Adonia returned to Miami yesterday. 

Fathom downplayed the incident saying that it was only a "short-term electrical difficulty.”

Prior to being the flagship for Carnival's so-called "voluntourism" brand, Fathom, the Adonia was in the Micky arison Twitterfleet of the Carnival brand P&O Cruises. After drydock, it was brought to Miami but quickly failed an initial Coast Guard inspection leading to Fathom canceling its first cruise. The Coast Guard said the most serious remaining problem were with "numerous sliding fire screen doors that are inoperable."

A lawsuit was filed against Fathom and Carnival after they enforced Cuban discriminatory policies prohibiting natural born Cubans from entering Cuban, in violation of the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

Once cleared to sail, the Adonia experienced a relatively small norovirus outbreak during the ship's first cruise to Cuba.

Social media, including Twitter, has not given the Adonia's latest trouble much attention. One of the few tweets about the Adonia yesterday was posted by Carnival chairman Micky Arison before the power failure, saying: "I'm preparing #Adonia to sail to Havana with Capt Sarah Breton."  It's a confusing tweet because Fathom subsequently released a statement saying that the Adonia was cruising to the Dominican Republic. 

There is some discrepancy in reports about the incident whether the cruise ship was heading to Cuba or the Dominican Republic. News 7 quoted a Fathom statements saying that the power failure occurred "on the initial leg of its journey from Miami to the Dominican Republic."  But another local news station, Local 10, quoted a second statement by Fathom: "Fathom will now arrive into Havana for the two-day call at 7:30 a.m. May 31, and will depart at 18:00 (6:00 p.m.) on June 1. Unfortunately it has been necessary to cancel the call to Cienfuegos and the ship will proceed to Santiago de Cuba as scheduled."

The news account also said that the Adonia apparently left PortMiami at 3 A.M. this morning. 

Photo credit:  Twitter/Micky Arison via News 7

 

Norovirus on Fathom Travel's First Cruise to Cuba?

The Sun Sentinel is reporting that the Fathom Travel's historical first cruise on the Adonia cruise ship to Cuba may have experienced a norovirus outbreak aboard the ship sickening passengers, according to reports from the captain. 

At around 2:45 P.M. this afternoon, there were at least 14 people on the ship complaining of diarrhea, vomiting and stomach cramps mentioned by the captain according to the Sun Sentinel. With only around 600 people aboard the cruise ship, that's over 2% of the cruise passengers which is near the threshold where the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) become involved.

The photos and video from the cruise ship show crew members already rubbing and scrubbing the surfaces of the ship. Norovirus is primarily a foodborne virus although the virus can last for weeks on contaminated surfaces. It can also be spread by person to person contact. Hand shaking on the ship is apparently discouraged. Self-serve buffets have also reportedly been replaced with service by crew members wearing gloves. 

The cruise ship, of couse, quickly blamed the passengers with the ship doctor writing a letter saying "we suspect that the virus may have been inadvertently introduced on board by embarking travelers, even though the ship had not even performed tests to make such a determination.  One of those sick, a former public health social worker, said "I think it was something I ate." Read Fears of Norovirus mar last day of cruise to Cuba.

You can see a video related to the gastrointestinal virus on the Adonia here

Norovirus on the first cruise to Cuba?  There must be a Jimmy Fallon joke here somewhere. 

May 8 2016 Update:  Spin Masters? Carnival PR team tells the Sun Sentinel that there is no verification that the Adonia guests were sick due to norovirus.

 

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Fathom Travel Adonia Ship Doctor Norovirus

 

Cruise to Cuba: Lawsuit Filed Against Carnival and Fathom Travel

AdoniaYesterday. a lawsuit was filed against Carnival Corporation and Fathom Travel for discriminating against Cuban-Americans who were excluded as passengers on the the May 1st cruise to Cuba.  The lawsuit alleges that these cruise lines violated the civil rights of two Cuban-Americans by denying them reservations on the Adonia because they were born in Cuba.

The lawsuit seeks class action certification. It was filed by the law firms of Koyzan, Tropin and Throckmorton and Robert Rodriguez P.A. 

You can read the lawsuit here.

Yesterday, the Sun Sentinel in Fort Lauderdale published an article by its editorial board stating that until Cuba changes its policy of prohibiting native-born Cuban Americans from arriving by sea, "all American cruise lines, ferry operators and shipping companies should collectively call a time-out on plans to sail to Cuba."  The newspaper states:

"It is not OK for an American business to abide by policies that discriminate against Americans. It is not OK for an American business to check the birthplace on citizens' passports before letting them aboard. It is not OK for an American business to create two classifications of Americans, no matter the rhetoric of presidential candidates who would discriminate against Muslim-Americans ."

Yesterday, the Cuban American Bar Association sent a letter to Carnival chairman Micky Arison protesting Carnival's enforcement of Cuba's discriminatory policies against Cuban-Americans.

Fathom Travel was last in the news earlier this week when the U.S.Coast Guard shut down the Adonia, scheduled to cruise to the Dominican Republic, for safety violations. Travel Weekly reported that the ship had numerous fire doors which were inoperable. Inoperable fire doors on an inaugural cruise should be a major embarassement for a cruise line with a history of fires at sea.

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April 13, 2016 Update:  

An embarassing day for Carnival's so-called "social impact" cruise line. 

Newsweek asks WHY ARE CARNIVAL CRUISES DOING CASTRO’S DIRTY WORK?

Miami-Dade mayor says Carnival Cuba cruise policy violates county human-rights law.

The Miami Herald joins the Sun Sentinel and asks Carnival to stop discriminating.

John Kerry: "American citizens, Cuban Americans have a right to travel, and we should not be in a situation where the Cuban government is forcing its discrimination policy on us . . .  Carnival needs to not discriminate."

The Miami New Times article A Cuban Millennial's Take: Obama, Not Carnival Cruise Line, Is the Problem in Cuba has a slightly different view, saying that Carnival is is "merely a pawn in a much larger political game."

April 15 2015 Update: Miami Hearld Carnival cruise to Cuba leads to rare, unintended bipartisan agreement against company's plans.

April 16 2015 Update:  The Miami-Dade County Community Relations Board (CRB) and the Hispanic Affairs Advisory Board (HAAB) are urging Carnival Cruise Lines to reverse its decision to not allow Cuban-born County residents as passengers on Fathom Travel's cruise to Cuba.

April 18 2016: Former Miami U.S. attorney had asked Justice Department to investigate Carnival cruise to Cuba ("Shamelessly, Carnival tries to absolve itself from its illegal conduct by pointing its finger at the Cuban Government and blaming it for its discriminatory laws. But, it is Carnival that is playing the role of the Cuban Government police, doing its dirty work by enforcing the Cuban Government's discriminatory laws. Carnival is willing to play that role for business reasons.")

April 19 2016 UpdateMiami-Dade’s human-rights law requires Carnival to sell tickets to Cuban-born passengers, county lawyers say.

Carnival finnaly comes to its sense. Carnival cruise lines says it will allow Cuban-born passengers to book travel to Cuba, but will delay trips if the island's government does not change its policy allowing nationals to return by sea.

Photo credit: MrDerails English Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0.

 

Carnival's Cruise to Cuba Discriminates Against Cuban-Americans

AdoniaI couldn't believe what I was reading in the Miami Herald article "Carnival Cruise to Cuba Discriminates Against a Class of Americans"  Carnival's new Fathom "impact" brand, scheduled to be the first U.S.- based cruise line to cruise to Cuba in over 50 years (on May 1st), is refusing to permit Cuban-born Americans on the cruise.

Written by Fabiola Santiago, the article quotes Cuban American Maria de los Angela Torres, who came to the U.S. as a Pedro Pan child in the early 1960's, after she tried to book a cruise to Cuba. Everything was proceeding smoothly in booking her cruise until the Fathom agent learned that she was born in Cuba. The agent then told her that "Current Cuban law prohibits Cuban-born individuals from entering Cuba via ship or other sea vessel, regardless of U.S. citizenship status. For that reason, at the present time, Fathom cannot accommodate Cuban-born individuals." 

The Herald analogized the discrimination to a cruise line refusing to take American Jews to Israel or African Americans to Africa. 

Two years ago, the Tunisian government prohibited Israeli passengers from disembarking from the Norwegian Jade during a stop at the Tunis (La Goulette) cruise port. Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) told the Israeli citizens that they were not welcome by the Tunisian government and had to stay aboard the cruise ship.

NCL quickly decided to boycott Tunis and issued the following statement: 

“We want to send a strong message to Tunisia and ports around the world that we will not tolerate such random acts of discrimination against our guests. We are outraged by this act and the fact that we were not notified in advance of this practice. We apologize sincerely to our guests who were affected and want them to know that we have taken the appropriate action in response.”

Carnival, on the other hand, is acting in "cahoots" with Cuba, as the Herald points out. It's pathetic and disgraceful on Carnival's part. Carnival acquiesced to the discriminatory policies of the totalitarian Castro regime as a quid pro quo to be the first cruise line to do business in Cuba. When faced with an important principle, Carnival sold out for profits. 

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April 8 2016 Update: Breitbart asks whether Carnival has violated the 1964 Civil Rights Act in an article titled Cuban-Americans Banned from Carnival Cruises Trips to Cuba. Title II of the act prohibits American “places of public accommodation” from discriminating on the basis of “race, color, religion, or national origin.” Place of birth, naturally, would fall under “national origin.” In federal caselaw, the U.S. Supreme Court held that foreign flagged cruise ships were subject to federal statutes which prohibited discrimination against U.S. citizens.   

April 10 2016 Update:  A look at Carnival's "social impact" brand, Fathom Travel, which I published last summer - The "Fathom" Ruse Revealed: Carnival Really Wants to be Friends with Cuba.

April 11, 2016 Update:  The U.K.'s Telepgraph newspaper comments on the ban of Cuban-Americans on the Adonia to Cuba: Cuban Americans banned from first cruise to Cuba in decades.    

Photo credit: Fathom's Adonia

The "Fathom" Ruse Revealed: Carnival Really Wants to be Friends with Cuba

I didn't trust Carnival for a second that it really wanted to build a sustainable business relationship with the Dominican Republic through its "voluntourism" brand, "fathom" (not capitalized). I expressed my doubts here.

Hiring pseudo-sustainability expert and faux-celebrity Tara Russell to market the brand seemed as un-authentic as the "workers" who posed in the new cruise brand's advertising photos. Next to the poor Dominican farmers standing in the photos, the "fathom" crew looked more like United-Colors-of-Benetton Fathom Cruise Brandmodels who got lost during a South Beach photo-shoot.  

Well the truth is out. Carnival's much ballyhooed new social travel brand "fathom" will operate to Cuba next year after Carnival won the right to start doing business in that country. The catch was that Carnival couldn't just detour a crowd on the Triumph swigging buckets of Bud Lights to Havana; it had comply with strict "U.S. Department of Treasury rules that allow licensed travel companies to transport approved travelers to Cuba to engage in activities that support the Cuban people," says Travel Weekly.

It seems like this was Arnold Donald's plan all along. Mr. Donald was using all of the right words in the announcement today: "We look forward to working with the Cuban authorities for their approval to help make the social, cultural and humanitarian exchanges between US citizens and the people of Cuba a reality."

But Cuba is no Dominican Republic whose claim to fame is, well, that it is not as poor as Haiti and that it could actually use volunteers.  Cuba, on the other hand, will become the economic powerhouse of the Caribbean, to the detriment of Nassau and all other cruise ports in the region. So the Adonia will be one of the first cruise ships to officially enter the former communist island from the U.S. Carnival will use the fare-paying, feel-good cruise tourists to subsidize the soon-to-be-highly-profitable enterprise.  Yes, Carnival's CEO Donald is a genius. Tricky but a genius.    

Was Ms. Russell in on the switch-a-roo from the start? Was she part of the cruise team lobbying Washington for the Cuba gig? The Adonia will still sail to the Dominican Republic for a while it seems (but it will doubtlessly be phased out as people will prefer Havana). But anyway, Ms. Russell is happily singing the corporate cruise gobbledygook: “Our goal remains the same for both destinations – to enable travelers to immerse, learn, serve and flourish while making enduring, sustainable contributions on a scalable and systematic basis."

Yeah, right.  

January 8 2016 Update:  It doesn't seem that Mr. Donald ever lost his home as a child to Fidel Castro

April 10, 2016 Update:  Carnival chooses profits over principle; plans to sail its Fathom brand to Cuba without Cuban Americans.

Photo Credit: Carnival / fathom

Carnival's Unfathomable New "Save the World" Cruise Brand

Yesterday, Carnival announced its new cruise brand, "fathom" (no capitalization), at a press conference in New York City. It said that the one-ship brand has an "unique business model for sustained impact and lasting development" with a "global vision that reaches beyond what the world has ever seen."

Carnival claims that "fathom" will focus on "education, the environment and economic development" in its ports in certain third world countries where it sails. Bloomberg explains that Carnival is targeting customers who want to "save the world while sailing the seas."

Before the press conference, Carnival greased the wheels of the promotion of its "first voluntourism Fathom Cruise Linecruise line" by distributing glossy photographs of models / faux-cruise-passengers pretending to help local farmers in the Caribbean. The travel and cruise publications reprinted Carnival's images and talking points hook, line and sinker.

Convincing people other than travel agents and Carnival's hardcore fans that this is a genuine and charitable project will prove to be far more challenging. 

Cruising in general and Carnival in particular are not remotely associated with sustainability or environmentalism, and with good reason.

The group Friends of the Earth recently protested Carnival's shoddy environmental practices at the cruise convention Cruise Shipping Miami. The group presented Carnival's new CEO Arnold Donald with over 100,000 signatures demanding that the cruise line update its 35 year old wastewater treatment practices. Carnival refuses to install Advanced Wastewater Treatment Systems on its cruise ships. It dumps disgusting amounts of sewage into the oceans. In 2014, Carnival received a "F" grade for its sewage treatment practices and a "D" for air pollution reduction. 

Avoiding environmental regulations is a fundamental part of the cruise line's business model since Carnival was incorporated in Panama in the early 1970's. The company incorporated outside of the U.S. and flies "flags of convenience" of countries like the Bahamas on its cruise ship in order to avoid all U.S. taxes and wage & labor laws and most safety regulations. 

Carnival also has a history of grossly underpaying and overworking its crew members. When CEO Donald joined Carnival, one of the first things he did was cancel the crew's meager retirement program. This is a cruise line that fired 150 Indian waiters who protested low wages and found themselves black-balled from the cruise industry.  

Carnival will use one of the oldest cruise ships it owns, the M/V Adonia, which is part of the P&O Cruises brand, as the flagship of the "fathom" brand. The Adonia used to be operated by Renaissance Cruises and Princess and has been registered in flag-of-convenience countries like Liberia, the Marshall islands, the Bahamas and Bermuda since it was built in 2001. It's a bunker-fuel burning and smoke-belching ship in the true cruise tradition of Carnival.

Here's what people are saying on our Facebook page

  • "A big pile of Carnival corporation lip service meant to deflect attention from the environmental nightmare that was the Concordia."
  • I better book so I can have a "Social Conscience."
  • "Socially conscience and financially (unconscionable) which is the only way that boat will float.... It's embarrassing that I still cruise Carnival . . ."
  • "CCL has tapped out the EBT Card market, let's go after the church's mission money! But we take out cut off the top. BRILLIANT!" 
  • "It will fail, (not) enough people will pony up $1500 to feel good about Carnival pretending to have a social conscience. Let's see them put scrubbers on their ships first."

This is strictly a for-profit cruise with a weeklong trip in a cabin with a window will cost a small fortune, $3,220 for two (more for a balcony) plus gratuities.  

There are lots of church organizations and non-profits that have a demonstrated, genuine commitment to the poor in the Caribbean and Central America.

The first stop for the "fathom" cruise line will be Carnival's private development in the Dominican Republic, Amber Cove, where the "save the world" cruisers can buy made-in-China souvenirs sold by Carnival.

Is this a money-making scam targeting U.S. passengers feeling guilty for choosing to vacation in the least socially and environmentally way possible?  It's a lot cheaper and more effective to fly down on your own to Santo Domingo and work with local charities if you really want to help the poor. But I'll let your conscience decide that for you.  

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June 17 2015 Update: Travel Mole weighs in on the issue: "Big questions over Carnival's venture into voluntourism."

Photo Credit: Fake passengers - "fathom" via Cruise Critic